Public Submission – Glowing North Pole by Mike Malaska









Regular VMC contributor Mike Malaska has submitted another outstanding image edit for the Mars Webcam blog, shown above. His work is based on an image of the North Pole of Mars from a VMC observation on the 30th September. The polar cap of the planet can just be seen in the middle of this image, with low sunlight glinting off the patches of snow and ice surrounding it. As Earth heads into Northern hemisphere autumn, Mars is also in Northern autumn at the moment and this view captures beautifully the impression of low sunlight in the Northern parts of Mars, with ice and snow signalling the coming winter.

Mike wrote the following to us about his work on this image:

"The main reason I initially got excited about this image was (1) North Pole of Mars and (2) taken at apoapsis (maximum height above Mars, about 10,000 km) of the Mars Express orbit. I was hoping for several pictures with very little change that could be used to make a 'super-resolution' image. Unfortunately, there was a 1-pixel-per-image rotation counter-clockwise (in this orientation) of the surface that messed up my plans.

This image was created by making an average of several images: Nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16, then Gaussian blurring this by 1 pixel to make a smooth color background. Next, Image No. 12 was used as a luminosity layer. It was also used as a HiPass layer to enhance subtle details. Finally it was blended with some of the original Image No. 12. Contrast enhancement and rotation (to put the North Pole at the top) and cropping gave the final image."

As always, excellent work Mike — and thank you for the submission and for showing us the beauty of Mars.

We'd love to see what other visitors can make of VMC images, too — just check out the Help us with VMC link at right to get started! -- Thomas





Mars Webcam presentation at IAC Prague 2010

Our colleague Thomas Ormston, who leads VMC activities for the Mars Express team here at ESOC, recently presented a paper at the 61st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Prague, Czech Republic.

The paper, "An Ordinary Camera In An Extraordinary Location: Outreach With The Mars Webcam," covered the history of the VMC project and provided details on camera operations and our results to date in publishing results to this blog. It also described the outreach successes of the project, highlighted some of the contributions from the Mars Webcam community, explained opportunities to use and work with the Mars Webcam and plans for future camera activities.

The paper was the product of a joint effort and made use of input from the entire Mars Express team (thanks guys!) – it's an excellent review of VMC activities to date. You can click on 'Full story' below.

We'd like to thank everyone who attended Thomas' presentation at IAC and, in particular, we'd like to give a big shout out to Beth Beck, who posted the following note in her blog:

"My fav presentation was European Space Agency's Mars WebCam project. You'll just have to check it out. The best example of 'participatory exploration' that I've seen. They turned an unused mission camera back on to take photos of Mars. They offer the data to the public to process. The Mars WebCam folks post the "processed" images back on their site. Quite wonderful. They've created an amazing, enthusiastic community of Mars-watchers, who participate in the mission voluntarily with hundreds of hours of processing time to their credit."


Thanks, Beth, for your kind words! – Daniel

Our IAC 2010 paper